Can an I-589 Asylum Applicant Divorce?
Elizabeth discusses the complexities surrounding asylum applicants and marriage in her post. She highlights that asylum applicants do not need to live together to qualify for asylum and emphasizes the misunderstandings about this requirement. Elizabeth notes the lengthy asylum process and the potential changes in family dynamics over the years. She supports the idea that USCIS grants asylum to spouses even if they don’t cohabit, drawing a parallel with comedian Carol Burnett’s perspective on marriage.
Elizabeth also warns against engaging in sham marriages for immigration purposes, pointing out that USCIS and experienced individuals like her can easily detect such fraud. She stresses the serious consequences of fraudulent marriages, including the denial of a green card for the principal applicant due to a lack of good moral character. Elizabeth advises honesty with legal representation to achieve immigration goals rather than resorting to fraudulent practices.
Carol Burnett, the famous comedienne, said that she was too set in her ways to remarry. After processing further, however, she explained that she would remarry… if her husband lived next door. The US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS, known as Immigration) understands this comic idea.
Asylum Applicants Must Be Married, No Requirement to Live Together
A noncitizen who fears they will be significantly harmed if they return to their home country can apply for asylum. If USCIS (or an Immigration Judge, if the noncitizen is in deportation process) approves the application, the noncitizen, their spouse and children all become asylees. It amazes me the trouble some couples go to “prove” they live together, believing that is a requirement, when actually they would all be granted asylum even if they did not live together.
The asylum process – application, review of evidence and decision – can take a DECADE. Americans are sometimes shocked to learn that “crossing the border” is only the beginning of an exhausting journey that humans undertake because they must. If these noncitizens could wait in their home countries, surrounded by friends and family, they would.
Of course, families grow and change in a decade. An optimistic couple may grow apart. Live apart. Stay married perhaps for the children, the religion, or (that inescapable prison of the soul) tradition.
USCIS will grant asylum to a spouse even if they do not live with the principal applicant. The key is that they are married, not that they live together. As it was in the case of Carol Burnett, as it is true in the case of many persons, some want a public demonstration of the committed relationship but not permanent cohabitation. I agree. The sweetest relationship moments occur during courtship. Date me always. Please!
Beware an Asylum Sham Marriage for the Purpose of Immigration
To be clear, USCIS – and I – can spot a fake marriage easily. The government has enormous resources with which to find out if a couple has future plans, travels together, shares holidays together, and are each other’s beneficiaries on wills and trusts. These are the hallmarks of a marriage when a couple live separately. I have one resource: over two decades of experience working with married couples.
A couple that claims to be married but is actually involved in a sham (that’s the USCIS term for fake) marriage has much to lose. The principal applicant who won asylum may never receive a green card (legal permanent resident status) because fraud demonstrates bad moral character. Good moral character is a requirement to get a green card. The “spouse” could be deported for fraud against the federal government. Don’t do it. Better to hire an excellent attorney and tell them the truth, so they can make your immigration goals a reality.
Disclaimer – These entries are based on real life events. Family member names, when used, are real. Client names are changed for privacy.